Their Quotes Are On Automatic

| KY, USA | Working | March 2, 2017

(I am having a relatively minor  –  but annoying  –  issue with my car. Since I work in the automotive industry, I do some quick research to troubleshoot the problem and order the necessary replacement parts. I don’t have access to a hydraulic lift all-but necessary to repair it, so I decide to call around and get quotes from local repair shops. The first place I call:)

Me: “Hi, I was calling for a quote on some repair work I need on my car.”

Mechanic: “Well, ma’am, it depends on what’s wrong with it. Does it run? Can you bring it by the shop for us to take a look at?”

Me: “Yes, it runs, and I already know what’s wrong with it and just need—”

Mechanic: “Ma’am, we won’t know exactly what’s wrong with it ’til we get it in the shop and take a look at it, but I could probably get you a ballpark figure. What’s it doing?”

Me: *humoring him* “First of all, it’s a 2006 [Domestic Crossover]: six-cylinder, all-wheel drive. When braking — particularly on a hill — it’s a bit rough. The ABS light comes on when the engine starts, and the all-wheel light flashes when braking.”

Mechanic: “Well, again, I’d have to actually get it on a lift and look at it, but it sounds like you got some bad brakes and warped rotors. Something like that goes on long enough, you could end up with a busted axle. We’re talking $100-300 for parts, about four hours or more labor. If your axle’s bent, it’s gonna be a lot more than that, but we won’t know that ’til we get it on a lift and take a look at it.”

Me: *DONE humoring him* “Actually, I replaced the brakes less than two months ago with ceramic pads, and the rotors were fine. The ACTUAL problem is that there’s a crack in one or both of the ABS tone rings on the front axle, causing the ABS to think the car is sliding when I brake. The rear wheels are engaged to compensate for the non-existent slide, and the car shudders a bit until I’m either completely stopped or moving again. It’s about a 2-4 hour repair job to replace both tone rings, but only $15 in parts.”

Mechanic: “Uh… ma’am, the ABS and four-wheel drive don’t work together like that.”

Me: “So, you’re saying you’ve never worked on a car with all-wheel drive?”

(Fortunately, the second place I called knew what I was talking about and quoted three-four hours of labor. Their per hour rate was a only a little higher than the third shop I called, but Shop #3 insisted they would have to order the parts themselves — at around $30 each, more than four times what I’d already paid — in order to warranty the labor. Shop #2 it was, and they did a great job.)

Doesn’t Have Tow-tal Recall

| Berlin, MD, USA | Right | February 15, 2017

(I own a garage in a small town. We get a call about a woman stranded on the side of the road. It’s from her roadside assistance company whom we’ve done work for before so it’s a no-cost tow for her. They bring her car in and we get it into the garage. Her car starts up, but can’t seem to rev up past an idle and won’t go faster than a few miles per hour, basically moving like you had it in gear and took your foot off the brake. I gladly take a look at it and within a minute I see the problem. The throttle linkage has come loose. Easy fix, but my policy is that if it came off once, then it might be a little worn and might do it again at a later date. I check my parts distributer and see that it’s a $15 part.)

Me: “Ma’am, the problem is the throttle linkage. It came loose. I put it back on, but since it fell off once it might fall off again. I don’t have that part in stock, but I can get it in by Monday and it’ll take all of five minutes to swap it out. Since your tow was from [Roadside Assistance] there’s no charge to you. I’m not going to bother with labor for a two-minute fix. You can take your car and head home, no charge, but I’d be careful as this could happen again. I suggest you let me order the part and have you come back in when it arrives. That would be $15 for the part and again, I’m not going to charge you for the labor.”

Customer: *flips out totally* “How DARE you try to screw me out of my hard earned money with your mechanical scams!”

Me: *hands her the keys* “The car is working. No charge. Good day.”

(I walk back into the garage and get back to work on one of the other cars. A few hours later I get a call from the roadside assistance company.)

Roadside Assistance: “We are calling to explain that if you’re going to be scamming and price gouging the customers, we’re no longer going to use you in the future.”

Me: “Is this about the woman you had towed earlier today?”

Roadside Assistance: “It is.”

Me: *sighing* “It was a disconnected throttle linkage. I pulled back the retaining clip and slipped it onto where it is supposed to be. It literally took me longer to explain it just then than it took to do it. I charged her nothing for the repair and since the tow was on you guys, no charge there. I DID say to her that if it came off once it might come off again in the future and that it might not be a bad idea to get a new one at a cost of $15, and again, with no charge for labor since it would take maybe five minutes. At that point, for this to not be any less price gouging I’d have to pay her to let me fix her car for her.”

Roadside Assistance: “Umm… Well… I see. We’re putting a note into her account and we appreciate what you have done for her. She was telling us that you tried to charge her for the tow and was going to ‘make her fork over $600 to replace half the engine.’ I’m sorry for wasting your time and we look forward to working with you in the future.”

(That was the first time I wished a customer’s car would go boots up on them.)

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Tiring Of This Scam

| FL, USA | Working | January 20, 2017

(This happened to my friend, and she still regards it as one of the most satisfying moments of her life. She’s at a mechanic’s she’s been to before, getting a routine oil change.)

Mechanic: “I just don’t know if I feel right letting you drive out of here, ma’am. I have to be honest, these tires are the worst I’ve seen in a long time. That can happen when you go for price over quality.” *he rambles on for a long time about how clearly the wheels are already warping and distending, how the rubber is clearly already cracking and old, and so on and so forth* “…but we can get you a set of good tires today for [high price] installed.”

Friend: “Hmm. Well, I mean, can we schedule it for after you talk to my lawyer?”

Mechanic: “Pardon?”

Friend: “I mean, you sold me these tires yourself last week, soooo…”

(The mechanic went white as a sheet and started stammering about how he was mistaken, then said he was “just pulling her leg.” He comped the oil change and my friend immediately drove to another mechanic to have the tires inspected, just in case… They were brand new, in perfect shape. Guess if you’re going to con someone you should probably be more detail oriented.)

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A Shocking Discovery

| Kitchener, ON, Canada | Working | December 8, 2016

(I’m the parts manager for a body shop that specializes in high-end cars. My shop is contracted to do all the warranty work for several dealerships in the area. I have just returned to work after taking sick leave and am still getting my head back in the game.)

Me: “I know that you can get custom nameplates for your vehicles, but since when does Land Rover provide them?”

Estimator: “What do you mean?”

Me: “I just got our shipment and these came in for that Discovery you’re dealing with, the one with the new hatchback.”

Estimator: “And?”

Me: *holding up two packages, each with a pre-arranged series of letters ready to put on the vehicle* “I’ve never seen anyone so proud of their hobbies. I mean, who would put “VERY DISCO” on their car?”

(My coworker reaches over and swaps the packages around so I can see that they combine to spell “DISCOVERY.”)

Me: “…I’ve been sick.”

You Are The Reason We Need A Holiday

| Oslo, Norway | Right | October 19, 2016

(I’m the owner of a small auto garage. In Norway it is common for most people to have their summer holiday in July. It’s also common that most businesses close down for the time, and so do we. I get a phone call on the 29th of June, two days before the summer holiday season.)

Me: “Hello, this is [Company]. This is [My Name]. How can I help you?”

Customer: “Hi, I’m a customer at [Competing Garage] but they are closing for summer holiday on Friday and can not help me. Can you?”

Me: “I’m sorry, but we are also closing on Friday and have more than enough to do serving our own customers.”

Customer: “Okay, do you know anyone that can help me?”

Me: “I’m sorry, my best advice is that you go to Yellow Pages –” *business register* “– and call around to see if anyone can help you.”

(The customer totally exploded and yelled at me.)

Customer: “Why the h*** is it so difficult to get some help with my car? It’s not a f****** human right to have holiday in July!”

Me: “What’s the rush? Why do you have to have your car serviced now?

Customer: “We are going on holiday this Friday!”

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